Sunday, February 21, 2010

DTN News: Israel TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ 5 Hurt As IDF Tank Fires At Palestinians Near Gaza Border

DTN News: Israel TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ 5 Hurt As IDF Tank Fires At Palestinians Near Gaza Border *Source: DTN News / By Haaretz Service (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - February 22, 2010: Five Palestinians were wounded in Gaza after an Israeli tank reportedly fired at figures advancing toward the Strip's security fence, the Palestinain Ma'an news agency said on Sunday. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) insignia is fixed to the Eitan, the IAF's latest generation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), during a ceremony intoducing it into the 210th UAV squadron on February 21, 2010 at the Tel Nof air base in central Israel. The Eitan, or Heron TP, weighs in at 5,000 kgs and has a 26 meter wingspan. It can carry a heavy payload, is equipped with more advanced technological systems than its predecessors and has a 20-hour high-altitude flying time.
The five Gazans were fired at, according to Ma'an, north of the village of Beit Lahiya, on the northern part of the coastal enclave.
Palestinian medical sources claimed that three Gaza residents were lightly injured and treated on location, while two others were evacuated to a nearby Gaza hospital.
Witnesses told Ma'an that the Israel Defense Forces tank fired at Palestinian workers passing by the former location of settlement bloc Gush Katif in the northern Strip. The IDF Spokesman's office told Army Radio that an IDF tank had indeed fired toward figures who were approaching the border fence in a "suspicious manner," while the Ma'an report added that the IDF had denied any casualties or structural damage.
The incident comes as the latest in a string of recent incidents along Israel's border with the Hamas-ruled Strip, as Ma'an reported on Saturday that an IDF unit opened fire at Palestinian militants, wounding three.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office confirmed that IDF helicopters had opened fire after noting a group of armed Palestinian fighters nearing the Gaza border military base Kissufim.
Palestinian security sources said armored Israeli vehicles at Kissufim had fired shells towards the Gazan south-central border region, following an attack on the base by Palestinian gunmen. The armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, said in a joint statement that their militants clashed with Israeli soldiers in the area.

DTN News: German Firm Retools As U.S. Military Contractor

DTN News: German Firm Retools As U.S. Military Contractor *Source: DTN News / BY Greg Gardnerfree Press Business Writer (NSI News Source Info) Auburn Hills, Michigan - February 22, 2010: There is still a demand for huge off-road vehicles that chew up and spit out everything in their path, but it's coming from the U.S. Army rather than suburban commandos, and there's a good chance it could lead to about 200 jobs in Michigan by the end of this year.
EDAG, a Germany-based company with automotive and defense operations in Auburn Hills, is coordinating a complex proposal to produce a new generation of mine-clearing vehicles that could save the lives of American soldiers. These brawny, weapon-munching machines would be able to dig up and detonate more land mines safely and faster than the Defense Department's current technology. "The more of our soldiers who get to come home healthy, the happier we are," said Matt Remenar, manager of EDAG's aerospace and defense business. EDAG is teaming with Lambda of Auburn Hills, RWF Bron of Woodstock, Ontario, Armtrac, a British company, and an unidentified U.S. manufacturer, which chose to remain anonymous until the contract is awarded. A decision is expected by the middle of this year. If EDAG's team wins, production could begin by the end of this year at a plant in Lansing. First-year production will be 30 vehicles. In addition to about 150 production jobs, EDAG CEO Volker Amelung said about 50 engineers and other professionals would be hired to support them. Because the bidding process is classified, EDAG can't release photos of the vehicle. But envision a large construction vehicle. Instead of a shovel or backhoe, it is outfitted with 20- or 30-foot-long arms with spiky tongs at the end. These arms churn up ground ahead of the vehicle, including mines, which can be disarmed or detonated. The explosions will not inflict significant damage to the vehicle or its occupants. More than 26,000 people are killed each year by more than 110 million land mines in the ground around the world, most leftover from wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and parts of Africa, according to the World Health Organization. About 2.5 million new land mines are laid each year.
EDAG diversified into defense contracting less than three years ago because its traditional business of making factory automation equipment for automakers and their suppliers was headed for a rough spot.
Because it is a German company, EDAG's first challenge was to comply with the Defense Department's International Traffic in Arms Regulations. That is a set of rules and practices meant to ensure that information and material pertaining to defense and military related technologies may only be shared with U.S. citizens unless authorization from the Department of State is received. Beyond the area mine clearance proposal, EDAG has developed a portable medical-aid facility that can be deployed to help first responders to natural disasters such as the Haitian earthquake or nuclear, biological or chemical weapon attacks. Amelung said the portable clinics can be used to triage patients according to the severity of their injuries or radiation exposure. They can even be used to administer the appropriate antidotes. "This would enable military and first-responder teams to not only treat mass casualties more efficiently, but it would provide the ability to decontaminate and deliver medical care," he said. Contact GREG GARDNER: 313-222-8762 or

DTN News: French Troops To Leave Former Colony Senegal

DTN News: French Troops To Leave Former Colony Senegal *Source: DTN News / Reuters (NSI News Source Info) DAKAR, Senegal - February 22, 2010: French troops will leave Senegal under an agreement to be signed shortly before the West African country celebrates 50 years of independence from France in April, the Senegalese presidency said on Sunday. France has about 1,200 military personnel stationed at an air base in the capital Dakar, one of three French bases in Africa. "It has been decided that the French ... will leave Senegal under an agreement which will be signed before April 4," the presidency said in a statement after talks between President Abdoulaye Wade and French Defence Minister Herve Morin. On April 4, Senegal will mark the 50the anniversary of independence from France.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ Outgunned Taliban Mounting Tough Fight In Marjah

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ Outgunned Taliban Mounting Tough Fight In Marjah *Source: DTN News / By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU - Associated Press Writer (NSI News Source Info) MARJAH, Afghanistan - February 22, 2010: Outnumbered and outgunned, Taliban fighters are mounting a tougher fight than expected in Marjah, Afghan officials said Sunday, as U.S.-led forces converged on a pocket of militants in a western section of the town.Afghan men look at U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines during an operation in Marjah, Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death. Despite ongoing fighting, the newly appointed civilian chief for Marjah said he plans to fly into the town Monday for the first time since the attack to begin restoring Afghan government control and winning over the population after years of Taliban rule. With fighter jets, drones and attack helicopters roaring overhead, Marine and Afghan companies advanced Sunday on a 2-square-mile (5.2-sq. kilometer) area where more than 40 insurgents were believed holed up.
"They are squeezed," said Lt. Col. Brian Christmas, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "It looks like they want to stay and fight but they can always drop their weapons and slip away. That's the nature of this war."A medical helicopter lands during a heavy gun battle in Helmand province February 21, 2010. NATO forces are facing strong resistance eight days into a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as Taliban fighters dig in to fight to the death. U.S. officials signaled their intention to attack Marjah, a major Taliban supply and opium-smuggling center, months ago, apparently in hopes the insurgents would flee and allow the U.S.-led force to take over quickly and restore an Afghan government presence. Instead, the insurgents rigged Marjah with bombs and booby traps to slow the allied attack, which began Feb. 13. Teams of Taliban gunmen stayed in the town, delivering sometimes intense volleys of gunfire on Marine and Afghan units slogging through the rutted streets and poppy fields. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the U.S. and its allies had expected the Taliban to leave behind thousands of hidden explosives, which they did. But they were surprised to find that so many militants stayed to fight.A U.S. Marine takes runs through a field after igniting a smoke grenade to mark a landing zone for a U.S. Army Task Force Pegasus helicopter during a medevac mission, in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sunday Feb. 21, 2010. Pegasus crews have come under fire nearly every mission in Marjah while evacuating the wounded, as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in an assault on the Taliban stronghold. "We predicted it would take many days. But our prediction was that the insurgency would not resist that way," Azimi told The Associated Press in Kabul. In a statement Sunday, NATO acknowledged that insurgents were putting up a "determined resistance" in various parts of Marjah, although the overall offensive is "on track." Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said Sunday that Marines and Afghan troops were continuing to run into "pockets of stiff resistance" though they were making progress. Diddams said no area is completely calm yet although three markets in town - which covers about 80 square miles - are at least partially open. "Everywhere we've got Marines, we're running into insurgents," Diddams said. In many cases, the militants are fighting out of bunkers fortified with sandbags and other materials. Before the assault, U.S. officers said they believed 400 to 1,000 insurgents were in Marjah, 360 miles (610 kilometers) southwest of Kabul. About 7,500 U.S. and Afghan troops attacked the town, while thousands more NATO soldiers moved into other Taliban strongholds in surrounding Helmand province. It was the largest joint NATO-Afghan operation since the Taliban regime was ousted from power in 2001. NATO's civilian chief in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said the military operation was moving slowly "because of essentially the ruthlessness of the opponent we face and the rules that we've set for ourselves" to protect civilians.
"We could have swept through this place in a couple of days but there would have been a lot of casualties." he said. NATO said one service member died in a roadside bombing Sunday, bringing the number of international troops killed in the operation to 13. At least one Afghan soldier has been confirmed dead. Senior Marine officers say intelligence reports suggest more than 120 insurgents have died. The Marjah operation is a major test of a new NATO strategy that stresses protecting civilians over routing insurgents quickly. It's also the first major ground operation since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan. Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said on NBC's "Meet The Press" that Marjah was the opening salvo in a campaign to turn back the Taliban that could last 12 to 18 months. In a setback to that strategy, the Dutch prime minister said Sunday that his country's 1,600 troops would probably leave Afghanistan this year. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende spoke a day after his government collapsed when a coalition partner insisted the Dutch troops leave in August as planned. Most Dutch troops are stationed in Uruzgan province, which borders Helmand to the north. Afghan officials expressed concern that Taliban fighters driven out of Helmand could regroup in Uruzgan without a robust NATO presence. During Sunday's fighting, Marines found several abandoned Kalashnikov rifles along with ammunition hidden in homes, suggesting that insurgents intended to blend into the local population and fight back later. Sporadic volleys of insurgent machine-gun fire rang out through the day. "They shoot from right here in front of a house, they don't care that there are children around," said Abdel Rahim. Abdul Rahman Saber, chief of the local council for Marjah, said the situation in much of the town was improving - that some residents had been able to return to their homes. Anxious to begin the task of restoring government authority, Zahir, the new district leader, said he plans to meet Monday with community leaders and townspeople about security, health care and reconstruction. "The Marines have told us that the situation is better. It's OK. It's good," said Zahir, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "I'm not scared because it is my home. I have come to serve the people." Life in Marjah, however, remains far from normal. The price of food had soared, with the price of sugar and other staples doubling as the fighting continues. "The Taliban are fleeing the area, but there is sporadic shooting," Saber said. "Two or three days ago, 12 civilians were wounded by bullets when they were escaping." On Saturday, President Hamid Karzai urged NATO to do more to protect civilians during combat operations to secure Marjah, although he noted the military alliance had made progress in doing that - mainly by reducing airstrikes and adopting more restrictive combat rules. NATO forces have repeatedly said they want to prevent civilian casualties, but acknowledged that it is not always possible. On Saturday, the alliance said its troops killed another civilian in the Marjah area, bringing the civilian death toll from the operation to at least 16. Karzai also reached out to Taliban fighters, urging them to renounce al-Qaida and join with the government. But the process of reconciliation and reintegration is likely to prove difficult. On Sunday, Mohammad Jan Rasool Yar, spokesman for Zabul province, said authorities arrested 14 police in the Shar-e-Safa district on Saturday who had defected to the Taliban's side last week. They were found on a bus heading to Pakistan. NATO said two insurgents, including a suspected Taliban commander, were captured Friday in northern Helmand province. The men are believed to be involved in making roadside bombs. They, along with three others earlier in the week, had been caught as part of an operation to break up the Taliban's weapons supply line. Associated Press Writers Heidi Vogt, Amir Shah and Tini Tran in Kabul contributed to this report.

DTN News: U.S. Patriot Missiles In Poland Early April 2010 ~ Report

DTN News: U.S. Patriot Missiles In Poland Early April 2010 ~ Report *Source: DTN News / Reuters (NSI News Source Info) WARSAW, Poland - February 22, 2010: Poland is set to host a battery of U.S. Patriot missiles and the American troops to man it from the start of April, PAP news agency said Sunday. "The Defense Ministry expects the first stage of the stationing of a Patriot air-defense battery and a 100-man service team to get under way in the (northern) town of Morag at the turn of April," the agency said. The Patriots are part of a Polish-U.S. agreement signed last December to upgrade the NATO member's air defenses, following Washington's decision last September to scrap a Bush-era Missile Shield incorporating installations in Poland and the neighboring Czech Republic. Russia has repeatedly warned against stationing NATO missiles in former Soviet-bloc countries and said it would beef up its naval base across the border from Poland in its Baltic enclave Kaliningrad. Friday, however, the Russian defense minister said Iskander tactical missiles would be installed in Kaliningrad only if Moscow felt directly threatened. A week ago, Poland's lower house of parliament sent the Polish-U.S. agreement to President Lech Kaczynski for ratification, but his signature is expected to be a formality. (Reporting and writing by Rob Strybel; Editing by Jon Boyle)

DTN News: Bulgaria: Says No Official Talks On US Missile Shield

DTN News: Bulgaria: Says No Official Talks On US Missile Shield *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) SOFIA, Bulgaria- February 22, 2010: The foreign ministry said in a statement Friday (February 19th) that Bulgaria has held no official talks with Washington on hosting elements of the planned US missile defence shield.
The statement came in response to Russia's request on Thursday for an explanation, after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said last week that preliminary talks with Washington will be held. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vesela Cherneva said on Friday that Sofia has received no official invitation to such talks, adding that the country will continue to adhere to NATO's joint security and defence decision-making policy

DTN News: Russia's Patience On Iran Strained But Not Snapped

DTN News: Russia's Patience On Iran Strained But Not Snapped *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media Stuart Williams AFP (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - February 22, 2010: Senior Russian figures have recently signaled mounting frustration with Iran over its nuclear program, a departure from Moscow's usual practice of moderating the West's more hard-line approach to the Islamic republic. With the United States courting Moscow on the subject, Russia may join the West in agreeing sanctions In half a decade of nuclear crisis, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has counted on the Russia of strongman Vladimir Putin to balance the hardline of the West with a more moderate stance. But in the last weeks, senior Russian figures have signaled mounting frustration with Iran, saying that new sanctions could be realistic and even casting doubt on Tehran's insistence that its nuclear drive is peaceful. With the United States courting Moscow on the subject, speculation has grown that the previously unthinkable might happen - Russia joining the West in agreeing sanctions that would threaten the Iranian economy. Analysts caution however that while there has been an unprecedented shift in Russia's rhetoric on Iran, this does not equate to a wholesale change in policy that could see it back tough measures against the Iranian oil industry. The position of Russia, which has the closest contacts with Iran of any major power, is crucial. It is a veto-bearing U.N. Security Council permanent member and also has an unmatched capacity to influence Tehran. "In the last months it is true that a lot has changed in the behavior of Russia towards Iran," Rajab Safarov, director of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies in Moscow, told AFP. "But it is the emphasis and the tone that have shifted, while Russia's overall position on Iran has not changed," he added. "These statements are an attempt to put pressure on Iran to make it more open to negotiations." Fear of regional tensions Russia's chief worry in the nuclear crisis was preventing any dramatic escalation of regional tensions, given that its southern border lies just 150 kilometers from Iran, said Safarov. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Iran's arch enemy in the region, was in Moscow last week to seek Russian support for "biting" sanctions against Iran that would hit the oil industry, its foreign currency lifeblood. But while President Dmitry Medvedev has since September 2009 repeatedly said that sanctions could not be ruled out, Russia appears to be some way from backing Western calls for tough economic punishment. Safarov said: "In spite of its threatening statements, Russia would not support a Security Council resolution for new sanctions if there was one now." Russia is in "a slightly different place" to a few months ago, said one Western diplomat, asking not to be named. "But there is still a huge process to go through." With Russia often finding itself sidelined in post-Cold War diplomacy, the prolongation of the Iran standoff allows it to flex its muscles on a big issue where it unquestionably remains a player. "Russia has an interest in the issue remaining in suspense," said Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Centre in Moscow. "If Ahmadinejad gives in to the pressure, Russia will first get the credit but then its role would diminish. Russia will never vote for economic sanctions at the U.N. Security Council against Iran as it would lose its specific role." With Russia's position crucial, one man has kept a careful public silence. The last major policy statement on Iran from Putin, who in 2007 became the first Kremlin chief to visit Tehran in the Islamic Republic's history, dates back to October. But lower-ranking figures have made statements that would have been unimaginable just months before. Iran is "always changing its conditions" and Russia's fears were now "not so far away" from those of Europe and the United States, said parliament's foreign affairs committee chief Konstantin Kosachev last month. A string of unpleasant surprises has given Russia good reason to revise its tone on Iran. Russia, which prides itself on having intelligence sources inside Iran far superior to those of the West, was taken aback by Tehran's revelation in September that it had built a new secret nuclear plant. Along with France and the United States, it is also a key player in a deal brokered by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency that aimed to defuse the standoff by enriching Iranian uranium abroad. Iran so far appears to have rejected the deal, a defiance that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has openly criticised as regrettable. In the energy-sapping game of nerves Iran is playing against the international community, Russia still holds some powerful pieces that give it a leverage on Tehran that no-one else can boast. Chief among these are five sophisticated S-300 air defense missile systems, which Russia agreed to sell to Iran for a reported 800 million dollars several years ago but has never delivered. Russia is also building Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr, a much-delayed project dating back to the shah's era that is finally due to come online this year.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ Taliban Beheads Two Abducted Sikhs

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 22, 2010 ~ Taliban Beheads Two Abducted Sikhs *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - February 22, 2010: Two Sikhs who were kidnapped for ransom were beheaded by the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s restive tribal belt. Some more members of the minority community are still in the custody of the rebels. The body of Jaspal Singh was found in the Khyber tribal region, located a short distance from the provincial capital of Peshawar, while the body of Mahal Singh was found in the Aurakzai Agency, sources told PTI. There was some confusion about the total number of Sikhs kidnapped for ransom from the Bara area of the Khyber Agency by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. A source said four Sikhs were abducted while another report put the figure at six. The Sikhs were kidnapped 34 days ago and the Taliban had demanded Rs. 30 million as ransom for their release. The two were beheaded after the expiry of the deadline for the payment of the ransom, the sources said. In New Delhi, the reports were received with shock, but there was no immediate comment by the government. “We are aware of these media reports. If it is true then it’s a matter of shock. We are ascertaining the facts,” official sources said. In Amritsar, the SGPC condemned the beheading and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the matter with his counterpart in Pakistan. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar told PTI: “The SGPC and the entire Sikh community strongly condemn the brutal murder of Sikhs in Pakistan.” He also demanded that the Prime Minister make immediate arrangements for an SGPC delegation to visit Pakistan to take stock of the situation. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Centre had been “callous” in not putting diplomatic pressure in time to get the abducted Sikhs released. Condemning the incident, he said this showed how minorities are treated in Pakistan.

DTN News: U.S. Has No Plan To Set Up Military Base In Uzbekistan Says Richard Holbrooke

DTN News: U.S. Has No Plan To Set Up Military Base In Uzbekistan Says Richard Holbrooke *Source: DTN News / Xinhua (NSI News Source Info) ALMATY, Kazakhstan - February 21, 2010: U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said Sunday his country has no plan to set up a military base in Uzbekistan. Holbrooke made the remarks after meeting with Kazakhstan's Secretary of State and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev earlier in the day in Astana. Holbrooke said Uzbekistan has given valuable support for the U.S. transportation of materials to Afghanistan. He also appreciated Kyrgyzstan's consent to set up a pass-through transportation center at the Manas international airport. Holbrooke also met with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Karim Masimov on bilateral and multilateral cooperation and development. They exchanged views about coordination on the Afghanistan issue. Holbrooke would travel to Georgia after his visit to Kazakhstan.

DTN News: Turkish Navy Seals Foil Attack On Japanese Vessel Off Somalia

DTN News: Turkish Navy Seals Foil Attack On Japanese Vessel Off Somalia *Source: DTN News / World Bulletin (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - February 21, 2010: Turkish navy seals have prevented an attack on a Japanese merchant vessel off the coast of Somalia, Turkish military said Sunday.
Navy seals with a Turkish frigate, TCG Gemlik, that operates under an international mission to fight-off piracy in the Gulf of Aden, detained seven pirates after intercepting their boat on Saturday.
The attack on Panama-flagged M/V APL Finland was successfully thwarted.
TCG Gemlik is the fifth task force Turkey has deployed to the region since February last year.
The others were TCG Giresun, TCG Gaziantep, TCG Gediz and TCG Gokova.
The Perry class frigate, TCG Gemlik, has relieved TCG Gokova that served under the international anti-piracy mission, CTF-151.

DTN News: Israeli Officials Plan China Visit To Discuss Iran

DTN News: Israeli Officials Plan China Visit To Discuss Iran *Source: DTN News / Press TV (NSI News Source Info) DUBAI - February 21, 2010: A delegation of Israeli officials will visit China later this month reportedly to drive a wedge between Beijing and Tehran, persuading the southeastern Asian country to support a new round of sanctions against Iran. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walks past a. picture of Joseph Trumpeldor upon his arrival for a special. cabinet meeting in Tel Hai near the northern Israeli town of. Kiryat Shmona February 21, 2010. The meeting was held at the site that has become a landmark of Jewish resistance, to.commemorate last century's Jewish fighters led by Trumpeldor, who defended it from from Arab attackers on March 1, 1920.
Headed by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the delegation will meet senior Chinese officials to discuss Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli campaign for fresh sanctions on the country, Ha'aretz reported on Monday.
China, one of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, has taken a stand against Washington's push for 'paralyzing' sanctions on Iran.
This has become an obstacle on the way of Western plans to force Iranians into giving up their enrichment program, to which Tehran says it is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The planned visit comes as a surprise since the political wheeling and dealing of Tel Aviv officials does not normally involve China. Mohammad Nahavandian, head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Tehran February 20, 2010. Western-backed sanctions on Iran to crimp its disputed nuclear activities will not have the desired impact as the country increasingly turns to Asian and regional countries, Nahavandian said.
Neither Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu nor Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have visited China or held significant talks with Chinese officials on important issues.
This comes as the UN nuclear watchdog released a new report on Tehran's enrichment program, criticizing Iran for a range of issues, but verifying the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in the country at the same time.
The report, which struck a harsher tone compared with the previous ones, has won plaudit from Israel, which reportedly possesses an arsenal of 200 nuclear warheads and yet accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons
Iran, however, says it "neither believes in atomic bombs nor is it seeking to develop such weapons."

DTN News: Dubai Killers Used Diplomatic Passports Says Police / Israel PM 's Signed Off' On Dubai Hit

DTN News: Dubai Killers Used Diplomatic Passports Says Police / Israel PM 's Signed Off' On Dubai Hit
* Al Jazeera reports ~ Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, is alleged to have given the green light for last month's assassination of a senior Hamas figure, according to a British newspaper. *Source: DTN News / By W.G. Dunlop (AFP) ~ Some information for this report was provided by other media (NSI News Source Info) - February 21, 2010: The assassins of a senior Hamas militant in Dubai made use of diplomatic passports, the Gulf emirate's police chief said on Sunday, as he warned of a mole within the ranks of the Palestinian group. Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, meanwhile, said the killing was carried out by Israel's spy agency Mossad with the green light and blessing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "There is information that Dubai police will not make public for the moment, especially regarding diplomatic passports" used by some of Mahmud al-Mabhuh's killers to enter Dubai, police chief Dahi Khalfan said in Al-Bayan newspaper. Mabhuh, a founder of the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai on January 20. Last week, Khalfan released the names and photos of 11 murder suspects with European passports -- six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France. The use of European passports has sparked a diplomatic furor in which Israeli envoys in the four countries have been summoned for talks. But on Saturday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon insisted there would be no diplomatic crisis with Europe over the use of foreign passports in the Mabhuh murder "as Israel had nothing to do with what happened." Khalfan, however, has said he is "99, if not 100 percent" sure that Mossad was behind the assassination, and added on Saturday that Dubai had evidence, including wiretaps, of the agency's role. The Sunday Times said the killing was personally approved by Netanyahu, citing sources with knowledge of Mossad. The premier met members of the hit squad at Mossad headquarters shortly before they travelled to Dubai, according to the Sunday Times, and authorised the mission, which was not seen as complicated or risky. "Typically on such occasions, the prime minister intones: 'The people of Israel trust you. Good luck,'" the paper added. Khalfan said that Mabhuh's killing was "no longer a local issue, but a security issue for European countries," quoted on Sunday in another Emirati daily, the Abu Dhabi-owned Al-Ittihad. Al-Ittihad said Khalfan has called for Hamas to conduct an internal investigation "about the person who leaked information on Mabhuh's movements" and arrival in Dubai to his killers. The source of the leak was the "real killer," Khalfan was quoted as saying. He said last week in a Dubai TV interview that there were others implicated in the killing whose names have not yet been made public. And two Palestinians have been arrested in Jordan and extradited to Dubai, where they are being held in connection with Mabhuh's death, according to Khalfan. A Palestinian Authority security official in the West Bank identified the two as Anwar Shaheiber and Ahmed Hassanein, members of the PA security forces which Hamas ousted from Gaza in deadly clashes in 2007. A senior Hamas member, Nehru Massud, was also suspected of involvement in the killing, the official said. Massud, however, has denied any involvement in the murder, while Hamas has denied reports that he has been detained in Syria in connection with the killing. Hamas has blamed the killing entirely on Israel and vowed revenge.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ Pakistan Forces Raided Militants Hideouts Near Afghan Border

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ Pakistan Forces Raided Militants Hideouts Near Afghan Border *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan - February 21, 2010: A Pakistani air strike killed 30 militants in mountains on the Afghan border yesterday, the military said, as the NATO' offensive against the Taliban continued in Afghanistan itself.A police commando runs to secure a position on a rooftop at the site of a shooting as two pro-Taliban militants suspected of involvement in several high-profiles attacks in Pakistan were killed in a shoot out with police near Afghan border. Pakistani security forces launched a major campaign against the Al-Qa'ida-backed Pakistani Taliban in their main haven of South Waziristan in October and the military has captured most militant bases in the region. Yesterday's air raid was in Shawal, a militant bastion near the border of the South and North Waziristan regions, where many Taliban are believed to have sought refuge. Al-Qa'ida militants are also known to be in the area. The security forces, as well as attacking indigenous Taliban who are trying to bring down the U.S.-backed government, have also stepped up action against Afghan Taliban in Pakistan, arresting at least three senior members, including their No. 2 man, this month. "The hideout in Shawal was targeted after we were tipped off that terrorists were hiding in the mountains," a military spokesman said, adding 30 of them had been killed. There was no independent verification. Apart from the Afghan campaign, the United States has also been attacking militants in northwestern Pakistan with missile-firing unmanned drone aircraft. A son of the leader of a major Afghan Taliban faction attacking Western forces in Afghanistan was killed in a strike by a drone in North Waziristan on Thursday. The killing of Mohammad Haqqani, son of Afghan guerrilla commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, came days after the arrest of the Afghan Taliban's top military strategist, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation in Karachi. On Wednesday, the son of an Egyptian-born Canadian militant was killed in a U.S. drone attack in North Waziristan, Pakistani security officials and Taliban said. They identified the dead man as Mansoor and said he was the son of Al-Qa'ida figure Ahmed Said Khadr, nicknamed al-Canadi, "the Canadian." Khadr was killed in a Pakistani army attack in South Waziristan in 2003.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ NATO Says Operation Moshtarak Is Making Progress

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ NATO Says Operation Moshtarak Is Making Progress *Source: DTN News / VOA (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - February 21, 2010: NATO officials said Sunday the route clearance offensive by international forces is making progress in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, a Taliban outpost. U.S. Marines with NATO forces keeps vigil as Marines and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers setup a joint military base in north of Marjah, city of Helmand province.
The alliance says Operation Moshtarak has improved freedom of movement in the area. British, U.S. and Afghan forces began the ground offensive in the town of Marjah as part of an effort to regain control of one of the Taliban's largest remaining strongholds.
However, NATO officials said in a statement the combined forces have encountered IED (improvised explosive device) strikes, weapon finds, and some small arms fire.
Meanwhile, NATO announced Sunday it has captured two militants, including a suspected Taliban commander. The men were detained Friday.
On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai renewed his call for the Taliban to accept peace and join with the government.
Reuters news agency quotes a Taliban spokesman Sunday rejecting the president's call for peace, saying Mr. Karzai is only a puppet who cannot represent a nation or a government. During a speech at the opening session of the Afghan parliament in Kabul, Mr. Karzai also urged international troops to prevent civilian deaths. Crew Chief Spc. Timothy Johns, left, of Mitchell, S.D. , with Task Force Pegasus, waits while a British Army soldier refuels his Black Hawk helicopter following a medevac mission, at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Saturday Feb. 20, 2010. Pegasus crews have come under fire daily while on missions evacuating those wounded as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in the assault in the Taliban-held town of Marjah.
NATO says it is committed to reducing civilian casualties as it continues its offensive in Marjah. The alliance said its troops killed a civilian in Marjah Friday, after a man dropped a box that troops believed was a bomb and began running towards NATO forces. At least 16 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the offensive.
U.S.-led NATO forces and Afghan troops launched a major offensive against the Taliban on February 13.
At least 12 NATO troops and about 120 insurgents have been killed during the fighting. Hundreds of Afghans are fleeing the violence. Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

DTN News: Is The US Dictating India’s Defence Deals?

DTN News: Is The US Dictating India’s Defence Deals? * Questions being raised since Antony cancelled $1.6bn airbus deal agreed with EADS
*Source: Daily Times By Iftikhar Gilani (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - February 21, 2010: Is the Indian government under pressure from the United States to cancel its defence deals with European companies and purchase defence equipment from American firms? The question is being raised after Defence Minister AK Antony recently struck down a $1.6 billion order bagged by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) for supplying the Airbus transport planes to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This is yet another order that has been “legitimately won” by a European defence company last year, with the IAF selecting the multi-role tanker-transport Airbus A330 after negotiating with companies for four year. But the deal was arbitrarily cancelled by Antony without giving any reason. Last year, India concluded a deal with Eurocopter – a French-German conglomeration –for buying 197 helicopters, which was also cancelled by Antony.
The Defence Ministry gave a very “shadowy” financial argument to explain why Boeing’s P81 Poseidon reconnaissance aircrafts were preferred over the Airbus in another deal. Another decision to award a large tender for “secure defence communication” equipment to Motorola – an American firm – instead of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), is also mired in “red tape and secrecy”, with the Defence Ministry failing to provide any plausible explanation for “dumping the winner” and preferring the US company instead.
The IAF officials who laboured for four years to finally pick up Airbus A330 are disturbed over the defence minister’s striking down of the contract as their efforts, energy and money had all gone to waste.
Defence analysts say there may not be a great conspiracy, but there is certainly something wrong in the way the Defence Ministry is cancelling deals with European companies despite of their winning the tenders and fulfilling the quality requirements of the Indian forces.
They pointed out that finalised transactions between sovereign nations do not “just get cancelled”. The question being raised at the moment is whether the Manmohan Singh-government is succumbing to the continued US pressure, or are there some “shadowy agents” who are influencing the government’s decisions.
Analysts say Antony cannot be blamed for cancelling the concluded deals, as he must be acting only on the advice of higher-ranked Defence Ministry officials. Analysts point out that unlike the US, the European firms had always agreed to the complete transfer of technology of the latest weaponry, and that too with no strings attached.
Hence, the denial of opportunity to them is astounding. Is it because the US helped India get into the nuclear nations’ family after over two decades of isolation that US companies are being preferred? Since the signing of the civilian nuclear deal, the US are sitting pretty on actual and potential defence orders worth $10 billion from India.
Disclaimer statement
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: Philippines TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ 'Militants Killed' In Philippines

DTN News: Philippines TODAY February 21, 2010 ~ 'Militants Killed' In Philippines *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MANILA, Philippines - February 21, 2010: Philippine troops killed six Islamic militants in an assault on a rebel camp in the south, the military says. It says marines raided the camp of the Abu Sayyaf group on Jolo island. Officials are trying to verify reports that a senior Abu Sayyaf commander was among those killed, Gen Benjamin Dolorfino told AP news agency. Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for bombings, beheadings and kidnappings of Filipinos and foreigners. It has been accused of links with al-Qaeda. Gen Dolorfino said Sunday's raid was carried out after intelligence reports that two Abu Sayyaf leaders were there, AP reported. One marine was killed and three were wounded during the assault. Abu Sayyaf is the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups in the southern Philippines. Its stated goal is an independent Islamic state in Mindanao and the Sulu islands. The government refuses to hold any form of talks with the rebels. Philippine officials said in December 2009 that they had arrested an Abu Sayyaf founder - Abdul Basir Latip - who has allegedly been involved in kidnapping foreigners and Christians.
Philippine Marines at rebel camp the Abu Sayyaf group Al-Qaida-linked militants where they raised a Philippine flag, background, in Indanan on the island province of Jolo in southern Philippines.
He has also been accused of forging links between Abu Sayyaf and other militant Islamist groups, such as Jemaah Islamiah and al-Qaeda.